by Jessie Mae
Microcosmos, a new design from the Amsterdam studio BCXSY and the Brooklyn wallpaper company Calico, is kind of like a Rorschach test. It’s easy to get lost in the pattern–which launched during Milan Design Week–but hard to figure out exactly what you’re seeing. An up-close detail of a marble slab? Some sort of cellular sample? A watercolor painting? It’s really a blown-up print of bubbles.
Courtesy of a laborious technique, BCXSY found a way to preserve the ephemeral beauty of bubbles. The designers first filled a tray with a solution of soap, glycerine, and ink, then stuck a straw into the liquid and started blowing. Once the entire surface was covered in bubbles, they gently placed a piece of paper on top, creating an imprint.
After seeing the resulting pattern, they repeated the process using different recipes for their solution until they achieved the print they liked the most. Then, they scanned the image and adjusted the color to mimic the natural iridescence of soap bubbles–a digital process that took weeks. Finally, Calico digitally printed the pattern on its wallpaper.